Flemensfirth’s Topofthegame Is Just That In RSA Chase

Topofthegame (7g Flemensfirth - Derry Vale, by Mister Lord) dug deep to deny Santini (Milan) in a thrilling renewal of the Grade 1 RSA Novices’ Chase on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Astonishingly, the Paul Nicholls-trained chestnut came into the race a maiden over fences, though there was plenty to like about his two attempts, having finished second in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase last time out in December.

Harry Cobden donned the recognizable silks of Mr and Mrs Barber, who own Topofthegame in partnership with Chris Giles, and rode his mount towards the back of the field. Traveling with eye-catching ease approaching the turn for home, he loomed close to the leaders in the straight and leapt to the front at the last, battling back bravely on the flat to beat Santini by half a length.

An elated Paul Barber said after the race, “He has done exactly as he was told to do and he and the jockey have done it to perfection. I couldn't have done it better myself! I enjoyed every second of it. He was going so well all the way, he's so big and just lollops along and pops over the fences. He makes the whole thing look easy.”

Topofthegame was bought for £120,000 by connections through Highflyer Bloodstock after winning his point-to-point debut impressively for Donnchadh Doyle at Belclare. He was bred by Patrick Kavanagh out of a half-sister to Artadoin Lad, runner-up in the Grade 1 Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle.